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Chawk Bazaar, a delicacy of Dhaka

By: Zabir Hasan
Photographs: Zabir Hasan

The Iftar of Chawk Bazaar of old Dhaka holds a tradition, which goes back to the days of kings & queens. For more than 400 years this market holds the reputation of the biggest Iftar market in Bangladesh.

This part of Dhaka does not have the shining lights and neon lamps. These people live their life with solitude like their forefathers. And for one month during Ramadan the whole of Dhaka runs after the Iftar market to have their delicacy. And when Ramadan ends, everything goes back to normal.

For many years the Iftar market of Chawk Bazaar has been exerting a totally different vibe by their exclusive delicacy. Different recipes and flavours create a totally different and delicious range of food, which attracts peoples from all over the place. Shahi Jilapi, Boro Baper Polae Khae, different types of kababs plus all the regular Iftar items are sold here. But you cannot imagine the extent of this food bonanza until and unless you visit this place.

So want a shortcut guide to Chawk Bazar? From Nillkhet take a rickshaw. Ask the rickshaw to go to “Chawk” and it will not take more than Tk 20, and around 20 to 30 minutes. So if you want to take a bite of Old Dhaka's delicacy, don't forget to pay a visit to Iftar market of Chawk Bazaar.

Goldy and Ramadan

Once upon a time, in a city choked and smothered by its unplanned buildings and roads, a little street child, a girl, decided that she had enough of the miserable life. Begging, while profitable when the girl managed to corner a gullible teenager was only satisfying in the most superficial of ways. We shall call her Goldy.

After having decided that she wanted something more out of life, she went and begged some more. Mostly because she was hungry but also because she hadn't really decided how to go about getting more out of life anyway. Also because she found a gullible teenager in the throes of Ramadan fervour.

And with this very incident, the girl found a spark of inspiration. Ramadan. That time of the year when the city become cloyingly generous and overly zealous in order to prove that yes, we too will go to heaven. Or something.

Goldy, decided that she would take full advantage of Ramadan. And how? She would wait for Eid. Or rather she would look for a family more concerned about Eid than fasting.

Thus with new resolve Goldy struck out on a quest. One that would take her absolutely no where and show her no astounding sights. Mostly the quest entailed that she roam around the streets some more, occasionally stick her hand out at overweight women and generally lounge about.

While she was in the midst of such mind-boggling activities, she came upon the House. It was one of those duplex houses, artfully structured with vines decorating the walls. The houses that always, always seemed empty of people. It was if the rich people had better places to be, even though they had such nice houses.

To Goldy's astonishment, she found that the artful viney plant things were actually a help in scaling the walls. Who would have thought? Goldy, quick footed and stick thin, had no trouble climbing quickly inside the House. And once inside, Goldy did what any child in an empty house would do. She turned on the TV and blew away a couple of hours watching absolutely nothing of any significance.

Once she got bored of the big screen TV, she decided that if she was to continue doing nothing at all, she could at least do it with a full stomach. She made her way down to the kitchen, and lo behold. Iftaar, laid out for a meagre three people, who lived in a 7500 sq.ft duplex house.

Goldy, having never seen so much food in one place dove right in. And like children are wont to do when they find food in ample amounts, she started playing the street equivalent of Barbies. With begunis.

But children grow bored. After messing up all three plates of Ifaar, Goldy decided to take a leisurely tour of the house, and alone in a huge house, she did the young, foolish thing children do when tired. She decided to take a nap. She went through the bedrooms, messed up two beds in the process (beds which she just couldn't resist testing the springyness of, meaning she used them as trampolines) and finally settled down under the third bed and went to sleep.

While Goldy was sleeping, the people who lived in the House, a family consisting of a corrupt Politician, a Socialite Wifey and a Teenaged Emo Kid, came back home.

They had gone Eid shopping even though it was just, what, the third day of Eid.

When they came home they found their Iftaar in disarray, their living room and bedrooms messed up and their TV for some inexplicable reason switched on to Nick. Convinced that it was an act perpetuated by The Opposition they went out again and arranged a protest rally.

Goldy went back to the streets when she woke up. See, happy ending.

By Tareq Adnan



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